Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Question without notice - Parliament House

12 September 2012

STEVE GEORGANAS (MEMBER FOR HINDMARSH): Will the Minister update the house on developments since his announcement yesterday about changes the Government is introducing to fisheries regulation under national environmental law?

MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT TONY BURKE: Thanks very much Deputy Speaker and I want to thank the member for Hindmarsh for his question. The Member for Hindmarsh has been following the issue of the super trawler very closely for some time and making representations about it in detail. Since I referred to the issue in parliament yesterday the legislation has been introduced to the parliament and it is now before the parliament.

It is also the case that in the course of that discussion there has been a couple of issues raised extensively as developments that need to be put out of the way straight away for the benefit of all the parliament. The first is there has been a claim, one of the developments Deputy Speaker, has been a claim that a document that was independently put out by AFMA two years ago or three years ago was somehow authorised by me when I was Fisheries Minister. That of course is not the case, never has been the case and that harvest strategy was never authorised by the minster, that's not how the system works.

But the most ridiculous claim of all Deputy Speaker. The most ridiculous claim is the claim that this is going to have an impact on recreational super trawlers, on recreational super trawlers. That somehow this legislation is going to have a big impact on recreational fishing as well. Now I have to say I'm not aware of a lot of recreational super trawlers that I have seen out in the ocean. I don't know that this issue is all that big.

But I do know that there are a series of amendments. Some that I have put in, one that was referred to in the question by the Member for Flinders, which clarify once and for all what has always been the intention of the Government, what has always been the intention of the Government. And that this is where there are concerns that have been raised, including by recreational fishers in the electorates of the members opposite.

It's the reason the Member for Dawson stood up in Parliament yesterday and said that he wanted that particular vessel stopped. He stood up and said that in parliament yesterday. And the amendments will be made, the amendments will be made, that calm the issue down and leave no doubt that we are talking about very specific situations. And if anyone wants to claim that they can just vote no and hide behind a recreational fishing argument that argument will be gone.

And people will know, when they go back to their electorates, their recreational fishers, if they go down this path of voting against the government's legislation, will put the issue squarely to them. You may as well be standing on the deck, hauling in the net if you are going to oppose this legislation.